Saturday, April 11, 2015

Cheaha State Park in the Talladega National Forest

East of Birmingham, AL and nestled in the Talladega National Forest is a treasure worthy of any Frugal Family Traveler's attention.    With beautiful hiking trails, waterfalls, stunning scenic overlooks, a beautiful swimming pool and stone-hewn buildings (compliments of the Civilian Conversation Corp), Cheaha State Park does not disappoint!  Those who frequently read our blog, know how much we enjoy hiking, letterboxing/geocaching and waterfalls!  This Spring Break we wanted to experience all of this!  However, we could not spare the extra days in order to travel to a place like the Smoky Mountains.  Cheaha provided everything we were looking for and much more but the best part is we spent a lot less time traveling!  We left our home on a Sunday afternoon and returned late on a Tuesday evening.  By looking at the pictures below you will be amazed at all we were able to see and do in such a short amount of time. 

We spent our first afternoon in the park at the top of Mt. Cheaha which also happens to be the highest point in Alabama at 2407 feet high.  It is easily accessed by driving the loop trail which starts at the entrance to the park. Once atop the mountain, a tall stone tower was found!  It serves as an observation area for guests of the park.  Our Frugal Family Travelers loved climbing the winding staircase of the tower!   Being that the walls of the tower are so thick and made of stones, it was like being inside a cave!  The cold temperatures made the climb all the more exciting for our Frugal Family Travelers.  Once at the top, our time was spent relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery!  










Next we loaded up the car and from the same loop driving trail we accessed the Doug Ghee Accessible Trail to Bald Rock which is adjacent to the group lodge facility.  This trail is an amazing gentle sloping boardwalk which mirrors the original trail built by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp).   This is great for those traveling with those seeking a wheelchair accessible trail, a trail for someone with a physical condition which prohibits hiking, and little ones in strollers! This short 1/4 mile trail ends at the edge of a mountain with stunning views of the valley below.   The boardwalk also has stairs periodically along the path which allows access to the ground below for those wanting to explore further.   Our Frugal Family Travelers loved the views and the geocache we found hidden off the main boardwalk trail! After this we had a quick dinner and turned in for the night to reserve our strength for the next day of adventure!  










Our first adventure of day 2 was an amazing hike to Pulpit Rock!  Although a short hike (approximately 1/4 mile) it has a steep descent at the beginning.  It's well worth the effort though with views very similar to the ones you will see at Bald Rock!  







After our trip to Pulpit Rock we decided to explore several hiking trails to waterfalls outside of the state park in the adjacent Talladega National Forest.  The first of which was the Chinnabee Silent trail.  This beautiful three mile trail parallels the stream most of the time and provides a beautiful view of both Devils Falls and Cheaha Falls.  This challenging  hike is three miles in and then back out again with some narrow trails passages along steep cliffs.  You will know you are close to Cheaha Falls when you see the Cheaha Falls Shelter.    It is important to note that parking areas are provided at each end of the trail to provide easier access points to each of the falls for those not wanting to hike the full trail in and back out.   Prior to your hike, be sure you stop at the Cheaha State Park store, located at the entrance of the park for directions and for a trail map!!  Pack plenty of water, snacks and sunscreen.  Consider having a picnic lunch packed and ready when your return to the parking lot.  There is a nice picnic area next to the stream and our Frugal Family Travelers certainly enjoyed this respite after our six mile journey.   Note: A vaulted restroom is also located in site. 















The final waterfalls our Frugal Family Travelers visited was a series of falls called High Falls!  This is a very short hike (1/4 mile) provides some beautiful views and excellent access to the water.  With a stream crossing over the rocks to the first falls and a trip up two sets of ladders to see the other sections of the falls, we were amazed!  Plan time in your trip to explore and relax as you hear the sound of the water cascading over the rocks!









Note:  This state park was truly a gem of a find with tent camping, areas for RVs, cabins, and a hotel type lodge, complete with a restaurant!  

Tips:  Make sure you stop by the store at Cheaha State Park for trail maps.  Pack plenty of water when hiking, wear sunscreen and bring ponchos in case you encounter an unexpected shower.



Click on ALL underlined text for access to more information regarding each location above!


Disclaimer:
All content provided on Frugal Family Travelers blog is for informational purposes only. The owners of this blog make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.  The owners of Frugal Family Travelers blog do not share personal information with third-parties and are not responsible for the republishing of the content found on this blog on other Web sites or media without permission.  As with all travel, operating days, times, costs, etc., should be verified prior to departure.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Grand Theater in Slidell has posted Summer Kids' Flicks Schedule

Disclaimer:
All content provided on Frugal Family Travelers blog is for informational purposes only. The owners of this blog make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.  The owners of Frugal Family Travelers blog do not share personal information with third-parties and are not responsible for the republishing of the content found on this blog on other Web sites or media without permission.  As with all travel, operating days, times, costs, etc., should be verified prior to departure

Monday, March 16, 2015

FLORIDA IS SO MUCH MORE THAN DISNEY!

Many families traveling through Florida to Disney World forget to consider the many hidden treasures in the state.  I am not talking about the beautiful beaches either.  Waterfalls? Caves? Pristine spring fed swimming holes?  Did you know all of these can be found in the "sunshine state" and not far from your path when traveling to and from a visit to the home of your favorite mouse!  Whether you are planning your next trip to Disney World or just a trip to to Florida, consider the offerings below! Your Frugal Family Travelers will not be disappointed!

Many of our readers already know how our Frugal Family Travelers feel about state parks.  Many unique places are under the purview of state governments and Florida is no exception.   While known for its beaches and of course, Disney, Florida is also home to many pristine spring fed swimming holes which provide unique opportunities for outdoor fun.  Our Frugal Family Travelers have visited one of these locations but the one featured in this post was actually suggested by a reader and friend!  

Madison Blue Spring State Park features an amazing 82 ft wide and 25 ft deep spring fed swimming hole.  This is truly an oasis like something found on a tropical island. 


Directions: 

Madison Blue Spring is approximately 10 miles (16 km) east of Madison on the west bank of the Withlacoochee River. Madison is located not far from the I-10 corridor between Tallahassee and Lake City.  From Madison, drive east on SR 6 to the Withlacoochee River. Turn south on the west side of the bridge at the park sign. Spring is 525 ft (160 m) south of the highway.



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Falling Creek Falls is quite the unexpected location, particularly when thinking about Florida.  It is part of the Suwannee River Water Management Area in Columbia County Florida and is located just outside Lake City.  Our Frugal Family Travelers  really enjoyed our visit here! 

Cost: Free 

Directions from Lake City:

Travel north on US 41, pass under I-10, turn right on NW Falling Creek Road; travel 1 mile. The park is on the right before crossing the creek.  









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Our third suggestions for "off the beaten path" travel is the Florida Caverns State Park.  Not only will a beautiful cave with limestone formations be found here but one can also hike, bike, canoe and golf! There is something here for Frugal Family Traveler in your group!


Directions



Click on ALL underlined text for access to more information regarding each location above!

Disclaimer:
All content provided on Frugal Family Travelers blog is for informational purposes only. The owners of this blog make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.  The owners of Frugal Family Travelers blog do not share personal information with third-parties and are not responsible for the republishing of the content found on this blog on other Web sites or media without permission.  As with all travel, operating days, times, costs, etc., should be verified prior to departure.

View FrugalFamilyTravelers' photos on Trover

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Three Neat Places to Make a St. Francisville Getaway Come True!


If you are looking for something to do on a long weekend or holiday that will provide great fun, while at the same time highlighting some great Louisiana history, consider visiting some of the neat locations in St. Francisville highlighted below.

Historic sites, including plantation homes, are abundant in the St. Francisville area but what many do not realize is that there are a few which are actually run by the Louisiana State Park System.  For this reason, I highly suggest purchasing a State Park Pass and visiting the sites featured below to capitalize on the savings.  A pass is $80 and allows ALL traveling in your vehicle admission to all state parks and state historic sites.   It will certainly pay for itself by visiting the sites suggested below.   The pass is good for a year which will give you time to explore other offerings in Louisiana (See our blog posts outlining other exciting Louisiana State Parks).  Our Frugal Family Travelers have certainly made memories while visiting these sites and yours are sure to do so as well.

Featured in the pictures below is the Audubon State Historic Site located at Oakley Plantation in the outskirts of St. Francisille, LA.  The famous wildlife artist, John James Audubon, lived here for over three months in 1821.  While hired as a tutor for the daughter of the Pirrie family, he painted over thirty of his famous bird paintings.  Oakley Plantation was built circa 1800 and is an excellent example of a Federal period plantation home.   After touring the home, take a leisurely stroll on the grounds to explore the garden, nature trail, outdoor kitchen, and slave cabins or rock on the porch while playing a game of checkers.  You might even run into a friendly peacock! 
















The next place on our Frugal Family adventure was Centenary State Historic Site in the nearby town of Jackson, LA.   All that remains of the original buildings from the 1800's are the west wing and professor's cottage.   Both buildings contain period furnishings similar to the types used by students in attendance at the college in the 1800's. We were particularly fascinated by the well-preserved graffiti walls created by students (see picture below and note the date).   Due to low enrollment after the Civil War ended combined with a desperate need for repairs, Centenary College closed and was eventually relocated to Shreveport, LA.  Fortunately, the state was able to purchase the property and designate it as a historic site for all to enjoy!

The Porch on the Professor's Cottage


An Old Typewriter



The West Wing of Old Centenary College

Graffiti left by One of the Students! 








The Greater Baton Rouge Model Railroaders and Old Hickory Railroad are housed at the same location in Jackson, LA and are right down the road from the Old Centenary College site featured above.   Unfortunately, the passenger railroad which took riders on a journey around this historic town has not reopened.  However, according to the workers at the site, it set for a possible reopening in July.   Follow the updates on their web-site for a definite date.   If your Frugal Family Travelers enjoy model trains, be sure and stop by.   An extensive number of train displays, including steam and electric powered, are open and running on the second and forth Saturday of each month from 11-4:00 p.m.  Admission is free.   When the passenger train returns to service, a fare will be charged for riders.

Restored Passenger Train

One of the Many Train Displays!



One of the Steam Powered Model Trains!



TIPS:  Combine this with a visit to Clark Creek Natural/Nature Area  and Port Hudson State Historic Site for added fun and excitement!!

Don't Forget to purchase your State Park Pass!!


(Be sure to click on all highlighted text within the blog for additional information regarding activities, including websites, special instructions and travel directions!)

Disclaimer:
All content provided on Frugal Family Travelers blog is for informational purposes only. The owners of this blog make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.  The owners of Frugal Family Travelers blog do not share personal information with third-parties and are not responsible for the republishing of the content found on this blog on other Web sites or media without permission.  As with all travel, operating days, times, costs, etc., should be verified prior to departure.

View FrugalFamilyTraveler's photos on Trover